In an absolutely horrific Illinois workplace accident that occurred last year at Komatsu America, an industrial worker had his arm severed when the machinery that he was working on at the Peoria plant malfunctioned. When this critically injured worker died at the hospital a few days after the terrible workplace accident, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation to determine what went wrong, and if there were other safety violations.
As we have emphasized on numerous occasions, it is the responsibility of an employer in Illinois to ensure that any worker using heavy machinery is properly trained to do so. Additionally, with potentially-deadly heavy machinery, it is imperative that an employer conduct regular safety inspections to ensure the machine will not malfunction and pose an injury risk. According to the OSHA director in this area of Illinois, “This unfortunate incident might have been prevented had the employer addressed previous incidents where the hydraulic coupler had failed.”
It must be absolutely devastating to the family of this victim that was killed on the job to hear that their loved one’s death could have been prevented. It appears this Illinois plant was aware there was an issue, but failed to address it. The price for these safety violations: a fine of only $82,000.
The family likely feels a large sense of injustice when contemplating this punishment in the death of their loved one. While families in similar situations can collect workers’ compensation death benefits with the assistance of an attorney, there can in some instances be additional compensation available for third party liability. While no amount of money will bring a victim back to a family, it can help a family find more peace knowing liable parties have been held responsible.
Source: SJ-R.com, “Peoria machinery firm fined in employee death,” Matt Buedel, March 8, 2013